New Delhi - Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Shahid Siddiqui on Monday welcomed Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's suggestion that the president of the country should be a non-political person, and said his party would definitely back Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam if there is a consensus on his name.
Siddiqui said the president of India should be above politics and parties, and should be the one who represents the nation as a whole.
"Sharad Pawarji, who is one of the most respectable leaders of the country and the most experience has suggested that the next president of India should be a non-political person. This is a good suggestion," said Siddiqui.
"But our point is whether it is political or non-political, he should be above politics, he should be above parties. His loyalty should not be to an individual or party, his loyalty should be to the people of the country, to the Constitution of the country and he should represent India as a whole," he added.
Pawar, an ally of the ruling UPA Government, had earlier on Sunday said he wants a non-political person to become the next president of India.
Siddiqui said Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had proposed the name of Kalam to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002, and added that his party would like to see the renowned nuclear scientist return to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
"The name of Dr. Abdul Kalam is also being suggested by many groups and parties. Mulayam Singhji had proposed his name in 2002 to Atalji (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee), and Atalji accepted that and Kalam Sahab proved to be one of the most popular and most respected president India ever had. And today if there is a consensus on his name, then definitely
Samajwadi Party will not be averse to it," said Siddiqui.
"We have been speaking to other parties and we are trying to build a national consensus on one name, because it will be preferable that the president should not be just by election, but by consensus, because India is passing through a very delicate political phase. And, India should have a president, who represents the nation not any group or party," he added.
Abdul Kalam served as the 11th President of India, succeeding K. R. Narayanan. He served from July 25, 2002 to July 24, 2007.
Further commenting on party leader Kiranmay Nanda's meeting with West Bengal Mamata Banerjee on the issue, Siddiqui said the Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief has agreed to support the name that would be suggested by the Samajwadi Party for the president's post.
"Our leader Kiranmay Nanda met Mamata Banerjee and had discussions with her. Mr. Nanda is one of our most respected leaders and he had talks with Mamataji. Mamataji has agreed that whatever name we suggest for the president, she will support it. I think this is a very positive gesture of Mamata Banerjee and we appreciate it," said Siddiqui.
"But no name has been discussed as yet. So, let there be a consensus, let there be a name, whether the person is political or non-political, the point is that the person should be by consensus, by agreement and should be a person who represents India and not just a group or a party or a region or a caste or a religion. And Mulayam Singhji is working in that direction, as he has always done it in past," he added.
The Samajwadi Party has begun exploring the chances of putting together a non-Congress, non-BJP coalition in the run-up to the presidential election due in June this year, and Kiranmay Nanda's meeting with Mamata Banerjee was a step ahead in this direction.
The names of Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee are doing the rounds as nominees for the top post, which falls vacant on July 24 when Pratibha Devisingh Patil's term ends.